I stepped outside of my comfort zone to support some friends last night in Nashville at the first ever Southern Underground Pro event located at The Cobra. Some of the positives were that all 12 guys in the tournament were passionate and talented, the show was an overwhelming success with huge support from fans all over the United States, sponsors, and a door that had to be really close to a sellout(which would only be around 100 but hey, can’t hate on someone for starting small with a vision…), and the guys all worked hard with each match offering a little something different as far as styles or the way the matches were worked. The negatives were I didn’t like that it started at 8pm CST(9pm EST for me…) on a Sunday night, the venue made me feel claustrophobic – as the ring just barely fit, and of course Deacon Hensley didn’t like the language and the fact that it was at a bar – but at least it was a bar show that knew it was a bar show. My recap won’t have a lot of details but these were the results and my impressions as a paying fan last night.
The event started on time with an introduction of the Bonestorm Championship by promoter Jesse Butler. The competitors all entered the ring for a pre-tournament photo and tension was teased between the members of The Carnies (Nick Iggy & Kerry Awful) who could potentially end up as opponents throughout the evening as singles competitors. That wouldn’t happen but it was a fun and rare glimpse of them not working as a team.
1) Curt Stallion d. Kevin Ku by pinfall
Stallion is on an upward trend with bookings lately, as he was recently featured in the ROH Top Prospect Tournament and will be competing in the 2017 Scenic City Invitational in Chattanooga, TN in August (*Shameless Self Plug*) . He’s really likable and will be even more likable if and when he puts on some upper body mass. He came out to Eminem(…or I mean a rights free song similar to Eminem!...), which I thought was odd with the “Lonestar” moniker but it’s a bar show and he can do whatever he wants. Ku is the former Kevin Park, who recently moved to Middle Tennessee from Georgia. They started it out with intense chops being traded and it escalated into speedy dives onto each other on the outside. Ku allowed Stallion to chop him and Stallion returned the favor of allowing Ku to chop him. Stallion yelled “This is stupid!” haha The match built in intensity until Stallion got the better of Ku and put him away with a torpedo-style kamikaze headbutt. Crowd was pleased after a hard fought opening match set the pace for the evening.
2) Dominic Garrini d. Dr. Daniel C Rockingham by referee stoppage
Garrini is another guy who is getting a ton of great opportunities. In the last year, he’s worked with several established independent stars, including Zack Sabre Jr back in November. He’s a compact guy who absolutely looks like a fighter and has a “thousand yard stare” that’s as intimidating as anyone. Rockingham is a bigger bodied clean-cut guy who boasts of being a Yale graduate and passed out motivational brochures before his match. It was a total style and tone mismatch. Garrini dominated the beginning of the match, throwing around the bigger Dr. Dan. Dan used his size and strength advantage to take over but Garrini battled back and wore him down, finishing him off with a locked in submission with punches to the head. Ow. I think Garrini will be a top independent guy in a couple of years and I’d love to see Dr. Dan in a match where he gets to show his personality and character more. He and Georgia based manager Lionel Lucas Lazarus could have a heck of a motivational feud.
3) Kerry Awful d. AJ Gray by submission
Awful is the big bodied, tattooed up Music City Mutt that is ½ of the Carnies tag team and Gray is an athletic, tree trunk legged newcomer from West Tennessee who has been traveling for opportunities. There were a lot of violent guys on this card but this match was two freight trains of size, agility, and fight colliding with one another. Lots of shots that seemed personal to start the match. A scary spot happened when Awful charged the corner and Gray sent him way up and over into an area where there was very little room next to the bar. These guys were extremely physical and threw a ton at each other. Awful wore Gray down and picked up the win with a super stretching Boston crab(or was it a Nashville crab?).
4) Chris Crunk d. Caleb Courageous by pinfall
Good change up here as we went from two wrecking balls to two leaner guys that started it off with traditional chain wrestling. I think there were times in the match where the crowd wasn’t completely into what they were doing but Crunk worked the crowd with some “I don’t hear anyone cheering for Caleb now” psychology – and it worked to get some more investment. They did get the only "Holy ####!" chant of the night when they did the up and over like Gray and Awful had done but Crunk followed it up by knocking Courageous off the apron onto the bar. These guys hit kicks, dives, and drivers of all sorts until the “Fighting Dreamer” Crunk got the pin.
5) Alex Daniels d. Nick Iggy by pinfall
Daniels reminds me of a smaller framed Dash Wilder. He’s in great shape, has a lot of ability, and a lot of personality in the ring. He was a doing a “Real Ben Affleck” shtick that got over pretty well with the bar crowd but I personally felt like he didn’t need it. Iggy has a hilarious amount of witty monikers and is the clean cut, Ryan Gosling-esque half of the Carnies tag team. “Dandy Orton” Nick Iggy hit a couple of RKO’s and put up a heck of a fight against the intense Daniels. Daniels fought back with some vicious offense and pinned Iggy after a running dump suplex into the bottom turnbuckle. It’s a nasty looking and insanely effective impact.
6) Brett Ison d. Frankie Flynn by pinfall
This was my least favorite match of the night. Ison is a mean looking dude that has the legit tough factor going for him. I told him before the matches started that sometimes people see wrestlers and think “I could do that” but they seem him and think “I don’t want to do that.” Flynn is a cartoonish small guy who looked like Phantom of the Opera meets Michael Jackson’s thriller. It wasn’t that these guys didn’t work hard or didn’t have psychology – it was that it went about twice as long as it should have in my opinion. Ison is the “Strong Style Pitbull” and due to the size and style difference, I just felt like Flynn got way too much in and that Ison shouldn’t have allowed him to have gotten that much in. Flynn took out the legs of the bigger man Ison and utilized wrestling holds and abilities on the brawler, which made perfect sense. Ison hit some powerful looking strikes and slams and put Flynn away in around 10-12 minutes.
7) Alex Daniels d. Brett Ison & Chris Crunk in a 3 way semi-final match after pinning Crunk.
Daniels asked Crunk to be his Matt Damon. They worked over the bigger man Ison and traded plenty of snug offense between them. Daniels must have been scouting Crunk’s offense from the earlier match, as he was able to avoid some of Crunk’s kicks that had been right on the money in his match with Courageous. Ison came in and overpowered the smaller guys. Crunk eventually dumped Ison over the top but fell victim to that corner dump suplex that I’m sure has a cool name from Daniels. Crowd was still into everything and these guys all worked hard.
8) Curt Stallion d. Kerry Awful & Dominic Garrini by pinfall
Garrini snatched up Stallion before the match even started and laid him out with a piledriver. Awful did the same. Stallion rolled to the floor as Garrini and Awful went to war. Stallion recovered to reenter and dish it all back out and more on Awful and Garrini. Lots of running kicks to the corners and Stallion stood victorious. As with a lot of these matches, my recap doesn’t do it justice as to how hard the guys worked.
9) Curt Stallion d. Alex Daniels to win the tournament and become the first ever SUP Bonestorm Champion
This was just crazy. They no sold German after German with some brutal landings on their necks. They battled it out and Stallion finished it off with the torpedo-style kamikaze headbutt. I expected this match to go longer but these guys had to be beat to death after the battles they’d been in throughout the night. Not my favorite style to watch but it was a heck of an effort that myself and the rest of the crowd appreciated. Stallion showed Daniels respect after the match, which the crowd also appreciated.
Butler and the always awesome referee Doug Markham presented Stallion with the championship to end the evening around 10:30 PM which surprised the heck out of me(in a good way) for a 12 man tournament.
Wrestling networking specialists Papa Hales and Dylan Hales were in attendance with Dylan providing commentary with a rotating cavalcade of wrestlers throughout the event. For more information on upcoming events or to find out where you can watch this event(since my recap provided such a detailed move for move summary….) check out @SUP_Graps on Twitter.